Thanks for the $3700, Linux

I have a fun question for Linux users today: What will you do with your US$3700?

That’s the money you won’t have to pay to Microsoft, over the course of your lifetime, to use your computer.

That number might sound a bit random, but there is a vague resemblance of math behind it. has current (with the stress on “current”) prices for most every Windows product back to 95. I draw the line there, although you could pull in prices from 3.x or 2 or even Windows 1, if you want.

With the average of everything up to and including Windows 7 reaching about US$112, that seems like a safe number to suggest for the versions of Windows that don’t exist yet.

And considering that the release schedule for Windows is rather spattered, but happening at its quickest at two-year intervals, I gave Microsoft the benefit of the doubt. I am predicting that the behemoth corporation, gnarled with bureaucracy and sodden with obfuscation, can disgorge a new version once every other year.

Wikipedia gives the last nugget of information, suggesting that the average life span of a human being is about 67 years.

Armed with those facts, and with a sparkly-fresh copy of teapot at my command, I came up with the magic number of US$3700, over a lifetime, for the use of computers.

Of course, that’s really wacky math. You’re free to dissect it as you like, account for crap releases no-one would buy, or adjust for inflation and amortization. 🙄

Do as you will, and disagree if you like. In the mean time, I will be planning my vacation around the US$3700 or so I can keep for myself, by never buying Windows again. 😈

P.S.: If US$3700 doesn’t shake you, do the math for Mac operating systems. Now that’s got to scare you. … 😯


14 thoughts on “Thanks for the $3700, Linux

  1. snek

    I would actually love to see the math for OSX 🙂

    As a fervent OSX hater I love seeing stats which prove Linux > Windows > OSX 😛

    Mind you, I mostly don’t like OSX because it’s made by Apple, who I disagree with on various points when it comes to their techniques for abusing their trusty users.

    Just a small list of facts:
    OS X was released in the same year as Windows XP.
    OS X users have had to do paid upgrades 6x already (to stay current)
    Windows XP users have had 0 paid upgrades in that time and are still current with SP3
    OS X users with a RISC based CPU have had to upgrade to a whole new machine because anything above 10.4 only supports Intel CPU’s

    The updates to OSX alone would easily add up to over 500 euro’s, and that’s for a single machine.

    Windows XP users can still be using the same machine without problems (my dad still uses a p3 733Mhz with XP on it and refuses to replace it “since it’s still fine”)

    1. spicedreams

      Actually XP SP3 is not current- mainstream support for all XP versions ceased in April 2009 (read very carefully at

      I agree though that XP SP3 with care will be usable for a long time on your existing hardware, and I have some existing hardware I hope will last a long time.

      However when the hardware breaks, I suspect that some components will be hard to replace with new equivalents with drivers for XP, and that may force me off the platform.

      I’m just hoping that by then, Wine will have cracked running Dragon Dictate. I think that’s the only Windows application I care at the moment.

      by the way in calculating costs, the article omits the very real and extensive costs of time to replace your OS and resolve the resulting application issues. I did a big upgrade a few years ago- several thousand PCs to Windows XP- and the services costs exceeded the hardware and software costs by some way. If your OS (or your leasing contract) forces you to upgrade every three years, that’s a heck of a lot of cost to amortise.

  2. conkeh

    The number’s random alright. Windows comes with a wallpaper and calculator and the software needed to actually do anything productive with it costs thousands upon thousands of euros more, for each version.

    Anyway where I’m from Windows user buy neither that extra software nor MS stuff. But they’ve all “switched to Windows 7” 😀

    Personally I don’t use Linux either to save money or to avoid “criminal sharing”.

  3. ErSandro

    Not mentioning the money needed to upgrade your machine when the new version of your O.S. requires to double the amount of Ram and the CPU speed.

  4. Mikko

    Unfortunately you cannot use the future savings of USD 3700 for a vacation now — stop buying MS products now, saving the money for five decades and travelling when you are 7o yrs old does not sound that much fun 🙂

  5. FreeBooteR

    Like has been said here already, it’s not just the Windows upgrades your saving on, it’s all the other programs you need to shell out copious amounts of cash for. It’s not really about price for me though, it’s all about the freedom, and trust. I like being a sharing free person, and i trust those in the GNU/Linux community to work for the benefit of the community. There is no sharing or freedom in Microsoft’s or Apples’s world and i trust them only to look out for themselves.

  6. ajlec2000

    I’ve probably given that much to cardboard sign panhandlers during a similar time period.

  7. keithpeter

    #conkeh has made an important point here.

    My desktop runs Ubuntu studio and has inkscape, scribus, openoffice and Lyx in daily use, not to mention GIMP and Hugin panorama software. So paid for versions would be something like Quark Xpress, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements). Not much change out of £1000 there, and upgrades every 3 years or so.

    My laptop has Puredyne (a media distro based on Ubuntu) with (in weekly use) Ardour and plugins, Pure Data, and the humble Audacity. Paid for would be Logic, purchased plugins, MSP Max and something like sound edit 16 or the later versions. That’s another $1000+ with upgrades every 5 years or so (musicians are conservative with their software).

    I feel richer already.

  8. koleoptero

    You forgot to take into account that in order to use every new version of Windows you’ll need another shitload of money for hardware upgrades every two years as well.

  9. Armor Nick

    This has to be taken relatively. While I agree that a Windows license costs a lot of money, I can count the people who actually legally buy the ‘new Windows’ on one hand. I think it’s more about the hardware: you have to upgrade your pc every few years to be able to run that new software. Also, a lot of free software is also available for Windows so that argument about the paid software is mostly irrelevant.

    Macs however. period 😉

  10. Pingback: Links 9/11/2010: GNOME Shell 2.91.2 Released, Linux Pre-Installed Advice | Techrights

  11. Andrius Bentkus

    I see a lot of university dudes using macosx. The funny thing though is that most of make heavy use of VI and Emacs and other posix compatible console tools. I wonder, why do they buy these ueberexpensive machines if they could buy a cheap one with linux and still be able to use all the console stuff.

  12. billwg

    The fallacy here is that someone will buy a new copy of Windows every 2 years for an extended period. That almost never happens, statistically at least. A couple of hundred million copies of Windows are sold annually, but less than 1% of them are sold individually at retail. The rest come as part of the purchase of a new computer and are free. Albeit their use is restricted to the computer that they came with, they still do not cost the buyer any amount of money that could be saved by using Linux instead.

    If you compare the prices for computers that come pre-installed with Linux, you can see that the Windows computers are actually less expensive and you could very well be paying thousands of dollars more over a lifetime for Linux in this situation.


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